(By Susan Adams)

The most highly paid African-American public university head is James Ammons at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. He comes in at 11th place on the list, with a package worth $781,000, including base pay of $341,000.

According to a report released today by the Chronicle of Higher Education, which wascovered in The New York Times, the nation’s highest-earning public university president in the 2011-12 fiscal year was Graham B. Spanier, the ousted head of Penn State University. While his base pay was $351,000 and his deferred pay was a generous $1.248 million, it was his severance pay of $1.225 million that propelled him to the top of the list, with total compensation worth $2.907 million.

Penn State forced Spanier out of his job in November 2011 in the wake of the child sexual abuse scandal that resulted in the conviction of Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky. An independent investigation ordered by Penn State’s board found that Spanier and the late head coach, Joe Paterno, had both known about the abuse allegations as early as 1998, but failed to disclose them to authorities. Spanier has maintained his innocence. He remains a tenured professor on paid administrative leave .

After Spanier, three other presidents enjoyed pay packages that came to more than $1 million. Jay Gogue of Auburn University in Alabama earned $2.543 million. E. Gordon Gee at Ohio State made $1.899 million and Alan G. Merton of George Mason earned $1.869 million. Merten left George Mason in June 2012 after serving 16 years as president. His package included a hefty $1.193 million in retirement  benefits.

Gee of Ohio State became the first public university president to make more than $1 million back in 2007. Last year his base pay was $830,000. He also enjoyed $875,000 in deferred compensation and retirement benefits of $50,000. The Times points out that Gee is one of the most successful fundraisers among public university heads, bringing in $1.6 billion since he assumed his post in October 2007. This is the second time Gee has been president of Ohio State. He held the job for the first time from 1990 to 1998 before leaving to go to West Virginia University, University of Colorado, Brown and then Vanderbilt before returning to Ohio State. The Times reports that Gee is known for the many perks he enjoys at his current job, including a rent-free mansion with an elevator, a pool and a tennis court. He flies on private jets.

Jo Ann Gora of Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., is the most highly paid female public university president with a compensation package worth $985,000, including $500,000 in deferred pay. Deferred compensation has driven up the packages of many presidents on the list. Mary Sue Coleman at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is the next most highly paid woman, with compensation worth $919,000. Only $586,000 of that amount is her base pay.

The most highly paid African-American public university head is James Ammons at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. He comes in at 11th place on the list, with a package worth $781,000, including base pay of $341,000.

Jack Stripling, the Chronicle reporter who worked on the survey, told theTimes that pay for public university presidents has tilted dramatically upward over the last few years. The pay for Gogue of Auburn University more than doubled in a single year, from $720,000 to $2.5 million. But Stripling said the greatest growth is among those who make $600,000 to $700,000. Twenty-eight university presidents now earn in that range, up from 13 the previous year.

Here is list of the top ten (rounded to the nearest thousand). For the full list of 214 presidents, go to the Chronicle’s site.

1. Graham B. Spanier
Pennsylvania State University at University Park: $2.907 million

2. Jay Gogue
Auburn University: $2.543 million

3. E. Gordon Gee
Ohio State University – Main Campus: $1.899 million

4. Alan G. Merten
George Mason Uinversity: $1.869 million

5. Jo Ann M. Gora
Ball State University: $985,000

6. Mary Sue Coleman
University of Michigan (Ann Arbor): $919,000

7. Charles W. Steger
Virginia Tech: $858,000

8. Mark G. Yudof
University of California system: $847,000

9. Bernard J. Machen
University of Florida: $835,000

10. Francisco G. Cigarroa
University of Texas: $816,000

(Source: Forbes)

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